The smell assaulted Susan first, left her gasping for air despite the breeze flowing through the window. Lazy swirls of red and blue lights played against the dark backdrop of the alley below. Radios squawked, breaking the silence, while smoke still curled in wisps from inside the dumpster. Another burnt body. She slammed the window closed with shaking hands.
A knock sounded at the door a few minutes later, startling Susan out of her reverie. She looked through the peephole into the dimly lit hallway. A man in a suit stood outside, his badge already displayed as if he expected to be asked for it. She left the chain on anyway.
“I’m with the police. Do you mind if I come in and ask you a few questions?”
“There’s been a murder in the alley. I saw you close your window. Perhaps you could help us with our investigation. May I come in?”
Susan glanced at his badge again before studying his clean-cut looks. His expression was impersonal, used to the scrutiny and suspicion. She made up her mind quickly. If there was something she could recall to stop the immolations terrorizing the city, she was willing to try. As she opened the door, he picked up a bag and stepped inside, crossing over to the window.
“You have a good view of the scene from here. Did you see anyone around that dumpster before the fire started?”
“No.” Susan walked over to stand beside him, shuddering as she spotted the coroner vehicle pulling into the roadway four stories below. “I’d just gotten home from work when I opened the window. The smell made me close it right away.”
“I can’t really be sure you’re telling me the truth, now can I?” The man spoke softly, pulling a small roll of duct tape out of his pocket with one hand while shoving a wad of cloth into her mouth with the other.
Susan struggled without success as he lowered her into a chair. He had her bound and gagged with expert finesse within moments. She watched in horror as he pulled a few items out of his bag, seeming in no hurry. His rapt expression spoke of dark pleasures as he slowly doused her with lighter fluid, then struck a match.
Copyright: © 2009 Laura EnoLaura Eno (http://lauraeno.blogspot.com) has written two YA fantasy novels and a paranormal romance. Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Twisted Dreams, The Monsters Next Door, Flashes in the Dark, 10Flash, House of Horror, The New Flesh, Everyday Weirdness and MicroHorror.